Cloud Communications: Top 5 Advantages for Your Enterprise


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Make no mistake about it: Cloud technologies are here, they’re real, and they’re the answer to your most vexing communications problems. Let’s begin our discussion with a quick overview of generic cloud-based technology. Keep reading.

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Cloud Communications: Top 5 Advantages for Your Enterprise

  1. 1. Cloud CommunicationsThe Top Five Advantages For Your EnterpriseAuthored by: Steve Shepard, President, Shepard Communications Group,
  2. 2. The Top Five Advantages for your Enterprise XO Communications Cloud Communications The Top Five Advantages for your Enterprise Introduction 1 1 - Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) 3 2 - Self-Management 4 3 - Productivity 5 4 - Business Continuity 6 5 - Focus on Core Competencies 7 . In Summary 8CLOUD. COMMUNICATIONS Hosted PBX 9 About XO Communications 10 About Steve Shepard 10 Authored by: Steve Shepard, President Shepard Communications Group, LLC Commissioned by XO Communications
  3. 3. Introduction XO Communications Introduction Many would consider Cloud Make no mistake about it: Cloud technologies Communications to be a new phenome- are here, they’re real, and they’re the answer to non in the pantheon of IT capabilities and your most vexing communications problems. resources, but that’s not exactly true. Let’s begin our discussion with a quick overview of generic cloud-based technology. Cloud technology has been around since 1968, when the first computer users logged in to the The resources required to deliver processing corporate mainframe (probably an IBM System power, enterprise storage, complex “Make no mistake about it: 360 or the equivalent) using their 3270 “dumb applications, functional enterprise application platforms, or corporate communications are Cloud technologies are here, terminals” over a blazingly-fast 1,200 bit-per- second analog facility. Thankfully, we have complicated, expensive environments. Most they’re real, and they’re the evolved a bit since then. Today’s cloud services corporations have one or more data centers answer to your most vexing . dedicated to the delivery of these and otherCLOUD. go far beyond the technological capabilities communications problems.” COMMUNICATIONS of those early days, offering much more capabilities. Applications are being moved into than the ability to share costly IT resources the cloud, for example, because by hosting among a large group of people. Today’s cloud them centrally, the client can provide access to solutions radically improve resource flexibility, all employees, regardless of location, and manageability, productivity, security, reliability, can guarantee that the applications are and operational effectiveness. not only the most current version, but also completely free of viruses, malware and other intrusive elements. 1
  4. 4. Introduction XO Communications The truth is that corporations have these data sales personnel, regardless of their physical centers because they have to – until recently location. Google Apps provides an entire there has been no cost-effective alternative. enterprise platform that offers communication, Today, however, that is no longer the case. collaboration, and cooperation to all employees The astute enterprise must pay attention to within the enterprise. And XO Communications a question being asked by cloud providers: offers a cloud-based communications service If you’re not in the business of running data that allows multiple locations to communicate “Perhaps the most exciting new centers, why are you running data centers? as if they were physically adjacent. entrant – and the one that will fundamentally change the way Today’s IT environment has adapted to this In a cloud-based environment, all of the businesses communicate – is reality, one result of which is the emergence of functionality resides “in the cloud” – within organizations dedicated to delivering storage, Web-accessible data centers that are centrally Cloud Communications” processing power, applications, platforms, and managed. The resources behave as if they communications from a centrally-managed, were on the user’s computer, when in fact they universally accessible place – the cloud. could be across town, across the continent or on the other side of the world. And while cloud .CLOUD. The companies that offer these services are based computing, applications, platforms and COMMUNICATIONS numerous and capable. Amazon’s Elastic storage have received a lot of attention in the Cloud offers storage on-demand. VMWare last few years, perhaps the most exciting new provides computing power-on-demand. entrant – and the one that will fundamentally offers a suite of sales support change the way businesses communicate – is applications, all delivered to roving or fixed Cloud Communications. 2
  5. 5. Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) XO Communications Changing the Paradigm: Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Today, the enterprise relies on a variety of communica- the cloud, leaving the customer with operating expenses (OPEX) tions modalities: voice, texting, e-mail, and video chat, only – and far less oversight and management activity, which in 1 even social media applications like Facebook, Twitter turn leads to lower costs. and Yammer. This is the benefit of the converged network that a cloud solution In fact, according to research from technology strategy firm makes possible. Each of the communications modalities listed Cumulus Technology, one-quarter of business process improve- earlier is delivered from a different source, and each must be ment initiatives today include integration of information from separately managed and administered. For precisely this reason enterprise social computing solutions1. Connectivity options, the concept of Unified Communications emerged a few years therefore, must evolve beyond standard enterprise applications, ago, thanks to the arrival of IP as a central unifying force in the legacy systems, and databases, to modern Web service and world of enterprise communications. Thanks to IP, all of these Web 2.0 APIs. This is where the cloud shines. disparate modalities can be unified under a common system, thus reducing the complexity of operations and the total cost .CLOUD. COMMUNICATIONS Consider this: the cost elements of a voice solution are not trivial. of ownership (TCO) involved in administering the daunting They include the monthly fees associated with multichannel PRIs task of effective, multi-site enterprise communications. There required for site-to-site connectivity; the potentially significant – are no up-front equipment costs (other than a possible LAN and variable - cost of monthly local and long-distance usage; the upgrade to handle voice); there are no costs associated with people, software and systems required to administer, manage, network management or infrastructure maintenance; there are operate, monitor, and maintain what can be an extraordinarily no access charges, since all voice and data communications complex communications infrastructure; and perhaps most are carried across a single converged IP network; and the risk important, the capital expense associated with having to own of technological obsolescence, always a behind-the-scenes fear and operate a collection of depreciable assets. of IT budgeters, completely disappears, since maintenance of technological currency now becomes the responsibility of the With a cloud solution, however, this cost structure flips on its cloud provider rather than the enterprise. The network literally head. The capital expense (CAPEX) associated with network and becomes future-proof, something that makes IT managers terminal equipment follows the communications application into smile for days. 1 Seven Best Practices for Cloud Computing. Cumulus Technologies; pervasivenews/19-seven-best-practices-for-cloud-computing. 3
  6. 6. Self-Management XO Communications Changing the Paradigm: Self-Management Remember our earlier admonishment: of IP, but the very fact that you are thinking about a cloud-based communication solution means that you have probably already 2 done much of this prep work, meaning that any additional “If you’re not in the business of running required support will be minimal. data centers, why are you running data centers?” Enterprise-scale PBXs are complex devices that require administrators to complete comprehensive training and Nowhere is this a more appropriate question than in the area of certification. This adds to the cost of operations. Self-Management. In today’s hyper-competitive communications marketplace, companies benefit enormously when they place as But with a cloud solution, any required activities such as much control of the relationship between the service provider adding or modifying profiles of users or modifying features and the customer in the customer’s hands as possible. It is clear – the infamous “moves, adds, changes and deletes” – are that service providers in today’s competitive environment are . accomplished via a simple Web interface, and are therefore asCLOUD. COMMUNICATIONS being pushed by their customers to place a great deal more scalable as the enterprise itself. And because the enterprise is emphasis on simplicity, transparency, the ability to customize the in control of all functions related to managing the relationship relationship between the customer and the network, and real- between itself and the network cloud, there is no need to be time choice of delivered services. dependent on a service provider to handle routine tasks, nor are there any fees associated with the changes. Self-Management as a central element in Cloud Communications speaks directly to this. Needless to say, there is a certain amount of up-front work required to prepare your network for the arrival 4
  7. 7. Productivity XO Communications Changing the Paradigm: Productivity What would be the point of moving to a Calls made in the environment, regardless of cloud-based communications solution if it the originating device, appear to the called “ The enterprise can enjoy 3 failed to deliver a significant leap forward party as if they were made from the main office, thus preserving brand identity and complete IP-PBX functionality in terms of organizational productivity? customer intimacy. without having to buy an IP- With a cloud-based communications solution, PBX. ” the “tyranny of twisted pair” disappears, And because of the power of truly unified because enterprise communications communications, calls can be transparently functionality can now be delivered to any moved between desk, mobile and home device, at any location, with a single phone phones to ensure seamless communications number, dial plan, and guaranteed voicemail and uninterrupted customer service. The forwarding to an e-mail account, regardless of result? A leap in organizational and personal . productivity, as the functional playing fieldCLOUD. geography. In other words, the enterprise can COMMUNICATIONS enjoy complete IP-PBX functionality without among fixed phones, mobile phones and video having to buy an IP-PBX. devices is leveled – permanently. Instead of having to focus on the infrastructure, users can focus on what it does for them. 5
  8. 8. Business Continuity XO Communications Changing the Paradigm: Business Continuity Business continuity, formerly known as “disaster Furthermore, the infrastructure is completely secure: recovery” or “disaster avoidance,” earned its stripes in 4 There is no physical hardware required at the enterprise the early days of cloud infrastructure when data storage location, which means that even in the event of a complete loss made its way into the cloud. of the facility, full-featured communications can continue in an The ability to back up critical data on multiple servers in different uninterrupted fashion as long as employees can find a working geographic areas as a way to avoid disruption by geopolitical phone. Running a corporate communications infrastructure events or natural disaster went a long way toward assuaging IT is an expensive, complex, and human-intensive process – managers’ concerns about business continuity following such not to mention a heavy consumer of CAPEX. By shifting the an event. When companies like XO took that same concept and expense, capital and operational burden of communications applied it to enterprise communications, a whole new level of to the enterprise cloud provider, those same financial and reliability emerged. Suddenly, weather and natural disaster – both human resources can be redirected to core business activities. . In some companies, IT and IT support, including enterpriseCLOUD. of which seem to have become more common of late – pale into COMMUNICATIONS relative insignificance in terms of their ability to adversely affect communications, can be as much as 3-5% of total revenue . enterprise communications. Even in situations where weather or Imagine the impact of redirecting a large portion of that to other other disruptions prevent employees from going to their primary activities that positively affect customer service, intimacy or work location, they can still be fully productive because the cloud stickiness? That would be a well-received decision by senior houses all of the functionality they need to do their jobs, and that leadership, and its strategic value would be equally well- functionality can be delivered to them, regardless of where they received. Moving non-core business functions such as VoIP to are physically located. Calls can be routed to mobile devices or a reliable outsourcing entity like XO means that resources that to fixed facilities that are unaffected by whatever problem would otherwise be spent on these non-core functions can is occurring. be redeployed into activities that provide a clear competitive advantage, without sacrificing service quality in any way. 6
  9. 9. Business Continuity XO Communications Changing the Paradigm: Focus on Core Competencies Running a corporate communications Imagine the impact of redirecting a large infrastructure is an expensive, complex, portion of that to other activities that positively “ By shifting the expense, 5 and human-intensive process – not to affect customer service, intimacy or stickiness? That would be a well-received decision by capital and operational burden mention a heavy consumer of CAPEX. senior leadership, and its strategic value of communications to the By shifting the expense, capital and operational would be equally well-received. Moving non- enterprise cloud provider, those burden of communications to the enterprise core business functions such as VoIP to a same financial and human cloud provider, those same financial and reliable outsourcing entity like XO means that resources can be redirected to human resources can be redirected to core resources that would otherwise be spent on business activities. In some companies, IT can these non-core functions can be redeployed core business activities.” represent as much as 3.5% of total revenue. into activities that provide a clear competitive advantage, without sacrificing service quality in . any way.CLOUD. COMMUNICATIONS 2 Gartner, Inc. IT Metrics: IT Spending and Staffing Report, 2011. Published 25 January 2011 7
  10. 10. In Summary XO Communications In Summary Corporate communications is considered by most IT to not only survive a major disruptive event but to in fact be fully directors to be an important but largely tactical activity. functional in spite of it, and perhaps the most important of all, the ability to focus valuable human and capital resources that When it moves into the cloud, however, enterprise would otherwise be consumed by non-core functions on those communications rapidly becomes a strategic function because functions that are revenue and customer service affecting, are of its ability to directly affect a significant number of revenue and clearly strategic in importance. service-impacting functions in the enterprise. Yet all of them result from one simple change: creating a The five areas that cloud communications affects which are trusted relationship with a best-in-class cloud communications described in this paper – the ability to lower the total cost of provider and working with that provider to create an IP-based ownership of the communications function, the ability to move unified communications infrastructure that supports multi-site control and management away from the service provider and offices, teleworkers, and mobile workers, allowing them to . put it in the hands of the customer, the enhanced productivity achieve their highest possible level of productivity by erasing theCLOUD. COMMUNICATIONS that results from the irrelevance of physical location, the ability complexity of communications. 8
  11. 11. XO Enterprise Cloud Communications XO Communications Hosted PBX Even if your head is already in the cloud, you can measurable benefits that result in a significant return on their work with a provider with proven VoIP and cloud communications investment. These benefits include: communications capabilities: with the right products, the • The ability to transfer the operations and management of the expertise and the business sense to help you succeed. enterprise communications function to a capable and trusted partner, thus freeing up resources for redeployment. XO Communications can help you migrate to the cloud simply, flexibly and cost effectively. Hosted PBX helps businesses • The knowledge that the monthly per-employee cost is predict- with locations across the US integrate complex voice and able on an enterprise-wide basis. Calling features and tele- IT environments, centralize voice applications, and take phones are included in the overall price. advantage of the productivity and economic gains of cloud • Awareness of the fact that because of the cloud architecture, communications. site-to-site calling will incur no additional cost across the entire enterprise. . The company’s IP-based Hosted PBX service allows multi-CLOUD. COMMUNICATIONS location businesses to scale their communication requirements • The ever-present ability to upgrade to a full suite of IP-PBX as required, while at the same time reducing the CAPEX and features and to VoIP telephones without the need to purchase OPEX spend typically associated with the management of new PBX equipment, and the attendant ability to avoid tech- enterprise-wide communications. In fact, for those companies nology obsolescence and benefit from “fuure-proofing.” that can classify the one-time setup and installation fees as • A broad range of calling features, local and long-distance call- capital expenditures, the conversion to Hosted PBX could be ing, enterprise-wide, multi-site high-definition voice and video, done with no CAPEX at all. secure online feature management, and SIP-enabled, high- definition phones. At the same time the service allows enterprise customers to accelerate the deployment of VoIP and the rollout of a XO has been in the communications business since 1996, comprehensive unified communications strategy. And developing an enterprise-centric network that satisfies the because the XO solution is an end-to-end IP environment, growing and evolving needs of its enterprise customers. XO’s client companies enjoy a wide array of tangible and one million VoIP subscribers using over 43 billion minutes of VoIP traffic a year prove that XO is a leader in IP services, including network-based cloud solutions. 9
  12. 12. About XO Communications XO Communications About XO Communications XO Communications is a leading nationwide provider of advanced communications services and solutions for About Steve Shepard businesses, enterprises, government, carriers and service providers. Dr. Steven Shepard, Ph.D. is president of the Shepard Communications Group. A professional writer, educator XO customers include more than half of the Fortune 500, and industry analyst with more than 25 years of in addition to leading cable companies, carriers, content experience in the technology industry, Dr. Shepard providers and mobile network operators. Utilizing its unique specializes in international telecommunications issues, combination of high-capacity nationwide and metro networks the social implications of technological incursion and and fixed wireless capabilities, XO offers customers a the analysis of financial issues related to technology- broad range of managed voice, data and IP services with dependent businesses. He is the author of 45 books on a proven performance, scalability and value in more than 85 wide variety of topics and regularly speaks to audiences . metropolitan markets across the United States.CLOUD. throughout the world, and has clients in more COMMUNICATIONS than 50 countries. For more information, call your XO sales representative, visit or call: 800.474.1703 Mr. Shepard can be reached at: For XO updates, follow us on: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Slideshare | YouTube | Flickr 10